I’ve been thinking about body image and confidence quite a lot lately – what it means to me, and how social media/the media in general can often distort the way we view our bodies and value others around us. As someone who has struggled with themselves relentlessly, I feel that this is a topic I could discuss forever! I also thought it might be interesting to just pen down my thoughts and feelings so that I can reflect back on this, and perhaps make it a regular topic of discussion. I apologise in advance if this is a bit of a ramble lacking in direction, sometimes my mind lights up at 2am and I find myself frantically scribbling things down…
For me personally, glossy magazines will always be just that – glossy magazines of beautiful women, beautifully dressed, in clothes that I probably can’t afford. I’m now at an age where I can pick up a copy of a well known magazine and acknowledge that it’s a distorted view of reality – nobody looks perfect everyday of their lives, magazines are designed to make us dream, to fantasise about fashion, and to keep investing in that idea that we could all look and feel better. We are all guilty of it – we catch a model in an amazing outfit and suddenly we find ourselves forking out money in the hope we will look exactly the same. And then suddenly we don’t, and the self conscious behaviour rears its head again ‘why don’t I look like that? Why can’t I look like that?’…
Nowadays, I feel that we are luckier in the sense that there’s so many independent magazines that are representing a wider range of voices, ethnic backgrounds, body types, and all the quirks in between that make each and every one of us unique. However, I don’t believe it’s the duty of these magazines to brain wash us into a certain way of thinking – should media hold a certain amount of responsibly? – of course, always, without a doubt, but I feel that it’s also the duty of smaller communities to come together and educate each other when it comes to positive thinking. Not just positive thinking, but the negative patterns of behaviour that we all fall victim to because of the media/social media in general.
The point I’m trying to make is that this negative mentality also builds within friendship groups, the playground, the workplace, the social media that we often chose to follow and then complain about afterwards. I’m guilty of this myself – then one day I just started unfollowing any accounts that didn’t make me feel happy, or good about myself or the world around me. Accounts that weren’t representing diversity and were basing fashion around a certain type of woman rather than the clothes she was sporting. Fitzgerald once wrote ‘the world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want’. This always stuck with me and has been helpful when it comes to practicing positive thinking – it’s not about ignoring the wider problem, but more to do with creating a safe space for yourself so that you can grow. Learning to tune out the negative voices and the negative materials available to us, to start actively thinking against what we are fed rather than absorbing it as gospel. If a magazine or account on Instagram only represents one type of woman, does that mean that’s the only type of woman that could possibly be attractive? Absolutely not.
Personally, I’m always most attracted to the things that others usually don’t appreciate about themselves. An abundance of freckles, a twitch they find embarrassing, or a little mannerism they wish was different somehow. These are the most precious things about all of us, and we have to ensure we protect them – what a boring old world it would be if we all walked and talked the same way. It’s also true that people usually desire what they don’t have – as though this would offer a form of escapism in some way, a means of looking at the world through an entirely different lens. As someone who has been overweight, underweight, a few different hair colours, and embarrassed by teeth wrapped in braces – ultimately, your outer appearance can also grant you so much happiness. Sure, looking good is important to lots of us – but feeling good should matter so much more. The way you feel also has an effect on how you look anyway – something I try to prioritise now above any physicalities.
The trouble seems to be that there never seems to be a body type that fits – just as trends come and go with pop culture, we are constantly changing what we think is normal and ‘perfect’. I think this is the point to remember – our idea of perfection changes so much because nobody really knows or understands what it actually is. Perfection is very fickle and therefore completely overrated and unobtainable. Beauty is completely conceptual, and just because one person doesn’t define something as beautiful, doesn’t mean that it isn’t. As cliche as it is, I’ve learnt that confidence is actually the most beautiful thing – confidence to be yourself, show your true personality to others, and to create a life that’s true and authentic. Our bodies don’t exist to please men or act as references for other women – our bodies exist for ourselves, for our own journeys.
It’s difficult as a woman, we are often lead to believe that our bodies should take up less space somehow. It’s something I’ve suffered with since I started becoming conscious of my body and caring about how others viewed it. I’ve rationed food, binged on food, and at times just plain avoided it all together. I’ve put my body and mind under considerable stress, and at times felt completely detached from reality. It’s difficult when a large proportion of your life revolves around posting images out there of yourself for others to analyse and critique. Having said that, blogging has also made me feel less attached to my body and how it looks in some ways – being photographed so frequently has almost made me less critical somehow. I know it has the complete opposite effect for some people, which I completely get, but there’s a certain strength in just presenting what you have and who you are – no matter what the consequences. I’ve always had this sense of not allowing myself to be comfortable, not with my work or achievements, and definitely not with my body. I think this is where the majority of unhappiness with the way we view ourselves stems from – we need to learn to appreciate how far we have come and what we have, rather than what we still lust after in the future.
Learning to be present is something I’m still working on, allowing myself to love my body because it works and it’s helped me come so far. From shy little teenager to someone that spills their thoughts and feelings to anyone who will read/listen. I guess the point of this post was to reinforce that we wouldn’t be the people we are today without our imperfections or weaknesses, they are as much a part of our beauty as all the things that are conventionally attractive. We are often taught that beauty is composed of a certain list of attributes, but to me beauty is about being honest. Honest about how we feel and what’s happening, about our hopes and fears and how they make us feel. Rather than the exterior – which I guess seems pretty ridiculous coming from a fashion blogger. I’ll admit, when I’m happy, fashion only elevates the way I feel, but when I’m low, it acts as my armour.
On the surface, a lot of what I do is focused around appearance, but to me fashion and beauty is more about how it makes me feel underneath. Personal style and self expression will stick but looks change/fade and don’t hold substance at the end of the day – change starts from within and we must learn to love and appreciate ourselves, or we will have a tough time doing the same for those around us…
Photography by Adriana
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